By Adetutu Folasade-Koyi:
• Presidency Sold Dummy On Swearing-in
A dummy was sold by the Villa to hasten the confirmation of Ministerial nominees last week.
But that is by the way. The focus of the North at the moment is for one of its own to get the Petroleum Ministry portfolio on the Executive Council of the Federation (EXCOF) Acting President Goodluck Jonathan will inaugurate on Tuesday.
The Niger Delta equally wants the Petroleum Ministry, as of right, being the custodian of the country’s oil.
So, if the gambit for Petroleum fails, the North would like to have the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) Ministry, which handles, among others, juicy land allocations in Abuja, the civil service town where Nigeria’s crème de la crème jostle to own property – if only as a staging post to get close to the corridors of power.
Rilwanu Lukman, a Northerner, was the Petroleum Minister until bickering and tension made Jonathan to dissolve the old EXCOF on March 17.
Investigation showed that Jonathan had by last Friday pencilled down former Solid Minerals Minister, Dieziani Alison-Madueke, for the Petroleum Ministry but this met with stiff objection from influential politicians from the North.
Opposition came too from Jonathan’s allies in the National Assembly (NASS), riding on the backs of the interest of former President Olusegun Obasanjo and Presidential Advisory Council (PAC) Chairman, Theophilus Danjuma, and other Northerners in who heads the Petroleum Ministry.
Basically, Jonathan is under serious pressure over seven “first grade” ministries – among them Petroleum, Works, Agriculture, and the FCT.
However, some members of the National Interest Group (NIG) in the NASS support Jonathan’s decision to appoint a Southerner for the Petroleum Ministry with a caveat: “A more qualified candidate should be allowed to man the place. We have told (Jonathan) that it would send a wrong signal” if the right person does not head the ministry.”
Some Senators in the NIG are also watching with keen interest where Bala Mohammed would be posted.
“There was a gentleman’s agreement that he would be given a Grade A ministry. At best, we were told that he would be posted to the FCT Ministry.
“But what we heard at the weekend is that the Minister-designate from Sokoto State is being considered because he was the candidate of a first-class monarch from the North,” a source disclosed.
The decision to jettison the “gentleman’s agreement,” it was learnt, “is to pacify the North in case the Petroleum Ministry goes to the South.”
Fresh facts emerged at the weekend that Aso Rock sold a dummy on the inauguration of the cabinet.
A Senator disclosed that when the nominees were being screened, he was “privileged to know” that the inauguration was slated for Tuesday this week, not Thursday last week, as put out by the Villa.
However, the dummy hastened the screening of the 38 nominees in the Senate, which did so in three straight days, Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, then confirmed them on Thursday.
Having survived a scare on Monday, the Senate leadership encouraged principal officers to meet with their caucuses where the modalities for the exercise were ironed out before Tuesday plenary.
It was learnt that on Tuesday, the Chamber met briefly in camera and decided that, “Senators would only be allowed three questions per candidate. The leadership impressed it on us that we needed to move at a fast pace, and did not want a repeat of the ‘(Dora) Akunyili episode’ (her type of prolonged questioning on Monday).
“That was why (from Tuesday onward) after three, or at most, four questions, the candidate was asked to bow and go. It was all pre-arranged.”
By law, the President has to appoint a Minister each from the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
However, 38 nominees were confirmed last Thursday by the Senate – with Taraba and Ebonyi States, and the North East and South South yet to get theirs.
Of this number, 13 are returnee Ministers appointed by President Umaru Yar’Adua.
They are Fidelia Akuabata Njeze (Enugu), Adetokunbo Kayode (Ondo), Dora Akunyili (Anambra), Akinlabi Olasunkanmi (Osun), Bio Ibrahim (Kwara), Godsday Orubebe (Delta), and Nuhu Somo Wya (Kaduna).
Odein Ajumogobia (Rivers), Dieziani Allison-Madueke (Bayelsa), Shamsudeen Usman (Kano), John Odey (Cross River), Aderemi Babalola (Oyo), and Humphrey Abbah (Kogi).
The 25 new entrants are Chukwuemeka Wogu (Abia), Josephine Anenih (Anambra), Labaran Maku (Nasarawa), Chris Ogiemwonyi (Edo), Suleiman Bello (Zamfara), Murtala Yar’adua (Katsina), Sanusi Daggash (Borno), and Bala Mohammed (Bauchi).
Nduese Essien (Akwa Ibom), Josephine Tapgun (Plateau), Mohammed Adoke (Kogi), Ernest Olubolade (Ekiti), Olesegun Aganga (Lagos), Mohammed Abubakar (Kebbi), Adamu Waziri (Yobe), Awodele Alao (Ogun), and Abubakar Mohammed (Gombe).
Yusuf Suleiman (Sokoto), Ruqaiya Rufai (Jigawa), Musa Sada (Katsina), Sheikh Abdallah (Niger), Emmanuel Iheanacho (Imo), Jibrin Martins Kuye (Ogun), Aliyu Hong (Adamawa), and Samuel Odeh (Benue).
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